Aetna's buyout of Coventry pays off with profit jump

Aetna's decision to buy Coventry Health Care last year continues to pay off--literally--as the insurer reported a 17 percent increase in second-quarter profits to $536 million.

The third largest insurer's revenue also rose to $11.6 billion, a 31 percent increase from the year before, while its membership increased 22 percent to 22 million people, according to Aetna's earnings report.

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini told analysts Tuesday he's "increasingly confident" the company can boost earnings this year, but it will still take a cautious approach to health insurance exchanges. Aetna is scheduled to participate in 14 online marketplaces, but it might scale back that number.

"We are continuing to evaluate where Aetna and Coventry have submitted bids and are in the process of rationalizing our combined exchange participation," Bertolini said, according to Reuters.

He explained Aetna will participate in the federal and state-run exchanges "on a limited basis" in 2014 so it can gain experience with the new marketplaces, LifeHealthPro reported. The insurer also is looking to private exchanges as a growth opportunity and expects to sell plans through about 15 private exchanges next year.

Bertolini said since employers are still experimenting with private marketplaces, it's "very early to tell how we'll look in 2015 or 2016."

To learn more:
- here's Aetna's earnings report
- read the Reuters article
- see the LifeHealthPro article

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